Yerevan, Armenia
8-16 January

Memorial A. Margaryan. Tournament "A". 5th Round


Agasarov takes the lead! But Grebnev is close...


In the Memorial of Andranik Margaryan, there are no weekends – nine games in a row. Despite such a tight schedule and immense dedication, the players do not slow down the pace. The fifth round turned out to be one of the most exciting! And it's not just about the number of decisive games, which came second only to the first round, but also about their intense content. Although fatigue is inevitable, it is already making itself felt.

Now the tournament has a sole leader – Benik Agasarov, who secured his third victory in Yerevan. Half a point behind him is Alexey Grebnev.

The game between Agasarov and Babujyan was eagerly anticipated by the audience. After all, it's a student against his teacher: 15-year-old Benik had never played against his mentor in official tournaments. Regardless of Levon suffering three defeats and his student, who came to him at the age of 8, leading the table and aiming for the grandmaster title. Everything had to be decided over the board, here and now. The 37-year-old grandmaster was in a fighting mood.

In the opening, unlike several games in this tournament, Babujyan got a playable position, although he allowed White's Spanish knight to occupy the f5 outpost. He should have slowly smoked out the opponent's active pieces from his half – instead, he tried to quickly solve all the problems, unnecessarily grabbing the poisoned b2 pawn on the other side of the board.

Agasarov immediately seized the opponent's mistake – White didn't even have to sacrifice anything. After 21.Bxf6! Qxf6 22.Reb1! Nc4 23.Rxb5, the entire queen's flank of the black pieces collapsed. White obtained two knights for a rook, skillfully bringing the game to victory. Interestingly, Levon did not stop the clocks until Benik proved that he could indeed promote a pawn to a queen. He examined until the end!

This victory allowed the youngest participant in the tournament to take the lead. The thing is, the parallel encounter between Ohanyan and Shahinyan was cut short on a "half-word": David blundered with a big yawn, ruining a good position.

Emin found a rather successful idea in the opening – 12.Ne5!?, forcing Black to look for a non-standard solution. David's unexpected choice – leaving the king in the center – seemed like a clear challenge but made White search for a refutation. There was none, as usual, but the positional concession could be costly.

Alas, Shahinyan's next move – 15…exf5?! – clearly contradicted the line of his game, and the black king, instead of moving to a safe square (15…Kc7), became a target. In the next three moves, Black skillfully maneuvered over the "abyss," and suddenly, when all their pieces occupied perfect positions, they gave up the game all in one move. Simply retreating the bishop to e7 would have relieved the tension, but, to their misfortune, they found another way to drive the white bishop away from the dominating position.

Capturing on d5 is not a threat for now, but after 19…h6??, everything turns around: 20.Rxd5 Rxd5 21.Be3 – the sacrifice turned into a bishop. Black instantly surrendered.

No sacred place stays empty, and in the pursuit of Agasarov, Grebnev immediately threw himself. After a series of boring draws, he systematically scored a point with the white pieces against Shuvalova. The only girl in the tournament plays without fear and doubt – and at some point clearly overstepped the mark. After the strange moves 27...Nb4?! and 28…f6? all her pieces took up a circular defense but condemned themselves to eternal passivity and practically resigned to their fate...

Alexey had no need to hurry, and in the spirit of Karpov, he could have strengthened the position and prepared the decisive breakthrough for another hundred moves. In the end, he needed only 23 moves to force Polina to admit defeat.

Finally, Davtyan secured his first victory in the tournament. Almost every round, he created something interesting, but it never worked out for him in the endgames. And here – in a meeting with Ivanov, luck smiled at Arsen. Sergey, as in many games, sparkled with bright tactical strikes, but... it was not enough!

His conceptual blow, the queen sacrifice 18.Rxc6!! – well, pure Nimzowitsch, with the subsequent blockade of the center with knights. Unfortunately, the very next move of the white pieces, 20.Bxf6, did not leave a chance to implement the plan. Black sacrificed three pawns, but achieved the main goal – exchanged queens, after which Ivanov's knight was no scarier than a pony. Davtyan's rooks entered the open field and decided the outcome of the game.

The longest, most tedious, and only drawn game in the 5th round turned out to be Sorensen – Mohamed. The Swede desperately searched for something to latch onto in the Iranian's position. At some point, it seemed he had the bull by the horns: won a pawn and moved his pieces to better positions, intending to win a second pawn. But he rushed and did not see the disguised trap. The black rook performed a deadly pirouette, ate White's passed pawn, after which a draw became inevitable.

Memorial A.Margaryan. Standings after the 5th round: 1. Agasarov – 4; 2. Grebnev – 3.5; 3-5. Shahinyan, Ohanyan, Movahed – 3; 6. Davtyan – 2.5; 7-8. Ivanov, Shuvalova – 2; 9. Sorensen – 1.5; 10. Babujyan – 0.5.


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